The original Hibiki has an open, relatively balanced and a slightly bright sound. I especially loved its technical capabilities, such as overall resolution, separation and sound stage. But it also has boosted upper mids, compared to the slightly recessed lower mid region. The tonal balance was a little tinny-like, but still quite good for the price.
The MK2 on the other hand gets things further. It presents a more balanced sound with more consistency across the spectrum with better timbre and bigger body. It’s overall the more coherent IEM between the two, and that’s very obvious even upon the first listen.
The Shozy Hibiki MK2 has a very good bass response, much better than the first model. The bass goes deeper, hits better and extends further down low. Sometimes it reaches to a point to give a little too much in sub bass area, but that’s of course a good thing for bass lovers. If you couldn’t find what you need with the bass quantity of the MK1, you’ll certainly be happy with the MK2. Me? I expected a better quality and that is indeed the case, but I would prefer a little leaner bass here, especially on the sub area.
The midbass part is also better, creating a very nice tonal body which is an area the MK1 lacked a little in. So there’s a good improvement here as well. The transition to the lower mid area is more healthy and coherent this way. The bass also has good speed, nice rumble and good separation from the mids at the same time. I found out that Pop and RnB music play great with the Hibiki MK2. Its bass is much stronger than the predecessor’s.
Because of the midbass development, the Shozy Hibiki MK2 gives lusher mids with better body overall. It has a thicker and a warmer approach in this region, and this is the very thing I love with the MK2. Although I think the MK1 has good mids for the price, the MK2 is simply better in every regard. Yet, the mids are still a little bit behind in the stage and not too accentuated. Whether this is a good or bad feature would depend on your personal taste and favorite genres though. There’s still a v-shaped sound so beware.
The MK2 has better tonality and a more satisfying timbre in the mids, giving instruments and vocals a better realism. Overall resolution is about on par with the MK1, and the positioning is also identical. A little more upfront mids could be great with this already-great IEM for the price, but it has a good mid performance nonetheless. Especially with the improvement of timbre and note size, I can easily say it’s very good.
This is the most similar area between these two versions. The extension is still not great, but it is as expected. The difference lies within the MK2’s better tonal accuracy and more cohesive approach to the sound. As it plays more consistent across the spectrum, the treble feels more realistic also and it has a good separation from the other frequencies.
Articulation is on acceptable levels for the price, but sometimes with fast tracks you can hear sticky cymbals here and there. Treble is not very thin which is a good thing. The size is ideal, and they have a good position in the stage, which is (ideally) slightly behind. There’s no aggressiveness whatsoever and that’s not an easy thing for budget monitors.
In terms of technicalities I could say the MK2 has a better tonality like I mentioned a couple of times. It has the same magnitude regarding the sound stage. Yet, because it presents a more cohesive and balanced sound, the stage feels more realistic and the overall sound is fuller. There’s more emotion and richness with its sound compared to the MK1. The MK1 has a tinny sound, especially on the mids. As soon as you switch back to the MK1, you can feel some things are missing. The other factors; such as background blackness, separation, imaging are all the same. Layering on the other hand is better because of the improved bass performance.
In terms of driving this earphone, things are again the same. It requires more power than other IEMs overall, but nothing serious. You can drive it with any source and there’s no need for an amp.
A natural source should be your best bet here. You would especially need good bass control, since the MK2 has an emphasized subbass. A DAP such as the little Shanling M0 can easily do the trick, as well as the M3s. They’re both effortless and neutral type of players. The Sony NW-WM1A is also a very nice match.
vs. Hibiki MK1: MK2 is better in every possible area, but maybe you wouldn’t enjoy the more emphasized sub bass.
vs. KZ ZS10: The Hibiki MK2 gives a better and more controlled bass response with better mid bass presence. It also has better tonality in mids, more refinement in treble. It also has better resolution and transparency.
vs FiiO F9 Pro: The MK2 has a better and more quality bass performance. The F9 Pro has more pronounced mids with a slightly better resolution. The Hibiki MK2 has slightly better tonality in mids, and it has more controlled and coherent treble. Sound stage performances are very similar. Build quality-wise the F9 Pro is ahead.
vs. iBasso IT01: They have the same 1 dynamic driver setup. They both sound quite coherent and I think with its improvement in the bass department, the Hibiki MK2 is much closer to its iBasso rival then the MK1. Frequency performances of these two are very close. However the IT01 is still ahead in terms of resolution and transparency. It also has a better separation but the staging performances are very similar. The iBasso clearly has the better fit with more isolation though. Overall it’s the better IEM but the Hibiki MK2 costs around 35-40$ less.
With its even better performance than the previous model, the Shozy Hibiki MK2 makes it to our Universal IEM Recommendations page easily, and replaces the MK1 in the process. Hearing this development in pure sound performance is great.
In my opinion it has became one of those close-to-perfection IEMs you can get for that money. There’s no obvious weakness with its sound, and it’s still highly premium looking with a very comfortable fit.
Highly recommended for the price.